Maritime NZ people

Read about some of the people who are doing great things at Maritime NZ, including those working behind the scenes.

Mike McMurtry

Senior Oil Spill Response Planning Advisor

Mike McMurtry

“We’re all about environmental protection,” Senior Oil Spill Response Planning Advisor, Mike McMurtry, says of his team – the Marine Pollution Response Service.

When he’s not responding to oil spills, Mike is involved in everything from Pacific Island risk assessments to reviewing offshore industry contingency plans. “I want to leave ‘a better New Zealand’ as our legacy,” he says.

Mike chatted to us about the many things he turned his hand to before joining us three years ago, the joys and challenges of his role, as well as his proudest moment at Maritime NZ . He also mentions how much he loves the water…

Please tell us a bit about your background…

Like many others, I have a pretty diverse past: Eight years as an avionics engineer for Air New Zealand, followed by five years at Auckland University to gain a Marine Ecology MSc (Master of Science). I then spent over a decade with Auckland Council in an environmental monitoring and research role, which involved roaming the region’s great outdoors, often in very remote areas. I did plenty of boating (purchased a few vessels for the council too) and led a team of commercial (scientific) divers. Over time, the role became mind-bending, with more of a focus on the design, build and implementation of databases for council, and a few national biodata projects.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?

My days are really varied! I could be working on anything from Pacific Island risk assessments to offshore industry contingency plans, or responding to events both here and overseas. So far these have included the Fox Rover Landfill Response on the West Coast of the South Island, and shipping casualties in Fiji and the Solomon Islands. I’m currently working on an oil spill response intelligence capability project and a range of localised plans for our Regional Council partners, while also preparing to deliver workshops and training.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy the people, the variety of tasks, the challenges and stretching towards goals, the constant learning, and the honour of working in environmental protection.

What do you find most challenging?

A couple of things… firstly, navigating the legislation, which can be quite ‘fun’ (thanks to the Legal Services team for patiently answering my long list of questions). Secondly, overseas responses can be complex – I’m on a steep learning curve.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?

We’re all about environmental protection. I want to leave ‘a better NZ’ as our legacy. What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ? Being identified as a future On-Scene Commander – it will take a while to grow into the role, but it’s a huge compliment to be selected.

What’s your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?

Crikey – too hard to pin down! I’m very proud of my role as a dad, as a husband and I love all aspects of my life – it has been peppered with fun, interesting, and stimulating achievements. But I do wish I could have said “my career as an astronaut!”.

What are the values that drive you?

I have a long list, but the top 10 are: Adventure! Passion! Integrity. Commitment. Awareness. Sensitivity and kindness. Wonder! Improvement! Treading lightly.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I love the water! There’s nothing better than the whole family catching waves – our kids (Liv, 15 and Koby, 13) are tireless surfers and body-boarders. We mainly hit the East Coast North Island beaches – we’re not hard-core West Coasters! And I’m a pretty keen diver, too. Diving is so Zen.

Otherwise, my wife Jade and I are very into music – we go to lots of gigs, and love to discover new releases or artists. Our tastes are mainly rock, but we check out a pretty diverse range of styles. I also play in a 5-piece rock covers band – it’s such a fantastic outlet, and the guys are hilarious – it’s just end-to-end laughs!

Mark Scully

Principal Operational Policy Advisor – 40-Series Policy Lead, Regulatory Policy

Mark Scully

“This is real work that will make life better for people who have to work with the current rules,” Mark Scully says of the 40-series reform project he’s currently leading.

Mark sees lots of parallels between the maritime industry and the construction sector, where he spent a large part of his earlier career. “Even though the detail is quite different for ship design, construction and equipment, I’m able to use my building knowledge as a way to approach understanding it,” he says.

Mark talked to us about what his typical day entails and how he enjoys the challenge of coming up with solutions for difficult problems, which is hugely beneficial for his work on the 40-series reform project. He also explains the similarities between his background in construction and his current role.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?

I lead the policy development for the 40-series reform project. The 40-series rules deal with design, construction and equipment on ships. A typical day is spent interrogating the current 40-series rules, identifying the issues, and proposing and then testing possible solutions. The project is at the initial design stage – developing a draft framework. We’ve also asked the industry to talk about their problems and experiences with the rules so we can take these on board. Once we have something that looks like it might work, we’ll consult the sector – which should be later this year.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy the challenge of working on difficult problems and coming up with solutions. This is real work that will make life better for people who have to work with the current rules.

What do you find most challenging?

Reforming the 40-series rules presents a lot of challenges – over 600 pages, thousands of rules, 50 pages of definitions, multiple rule parts, duplication, repetition, inconsistencies, often unhelpfully prescriptive. Lots of amendments have been made over time without transition provisions, which means it’s quite difficult to know which standard applies to a particular ship. All of that needs to be sorted out.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?

Although it might seem strange, there are lots of parallels with the construction sector, where I’ve spent a large part of my career. The work is often quite tough and there’s always machinery involved – it’s technical work. Like the construction sector, maritime people are practical and focused on solutions. Exchanges are often pretty direct – you don’t get too much waffle. I’m very comfortable with that approach. There are regulatory parallels as well. Buildings are designed and constructed and have systems – e.g. fire safety appliances or means of access and egress. Even though the detail is quite different for ship design, construction and equipment, I’m able to use my building knowledge as a way to approach understanding it.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?

One of the things I’m proud of is the guideline called ‘Health and Safety: A Guide for Mariners’ which provides an overview of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. It was pulled together in a short time, looks great, and explains the Act in an accessible way.

Please tell us a bit about your background...

I started my career as a carpenter and ran my own business for some years. My wife supported me through university and I became a building inspector in my thirties. From there I moved into the Building Industry Authority, which became the Department of Building and Housing. My first job there involved auditing how well local authorities were issuing building consents and managing inspections, before establishing and then operating the Licensed Building Practitioner scheme. During this time, I took part in the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) programme and gained a Masters in Public Administration. I then moved on to WorkSafe before joining Maritime NZ in 2016. In my first role at Maritime NZ, I helped implement the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA). I’ve been involved in a variety of work since then.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

At the risk of seeming corny, my biggest achievement is my relationship with my wife Craigie and raising two fine sons.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

My wife and I are walking the Hump Ridge Track in Southland at Easter. I did quite a bit of tramping when I was younger, but in later years we’ve tended to go on guided walks where you only carry a day pack. This will be 60km over three days carrying a pack, so we’re both a bit nervous. For the past few weekends we’ve been hiking with packs to train for the trip.

Sharyn Forsyth

Deputy Director – Communication and Stakeholder Engagement

Sharyn Forsyth

Sharyn Forsyth came on board as Maritime NZ’s first ever policy analyst in 1998. Twenty-one years and numerous roles later, she now leads our Communication and Stakeholder Engagement group.

Sharyn has always had “a passion for ensuring that industry voices are heard and valued within Maritime NZ”, and as a result, she’s built strong connections across the industry. Today she’s deeply committed to making a difference by working alongside the industry to achieve better ‘safe, secure and clean’ outcomes.

Sharyn talked to us about the path that led her to where she is today, and how she continues to find her work with the maritime industry both interesting and rewarding. She also mentions the achievements she’s enjoyed and challenges she’s faced along the way...

How long have you worked for Maritime NZ?

Twenty-one years! I joined as Maritime NZ’s first ever policy analyst, and I’ve changed roles every few years since then. After working in the policy area (which I ended up managing), I looked after internal audit, risk and government relations, then project managed the early stages of a review of safe ship management (which preceded MOSS), before taking up an operational management role. I was responsible for the maritime safety inspectorate, technical advisors and industry liaison team for a while, then the certification team, technical advice and operational policy. Now, and for the past year, I lead the group responsible for internal and external communication, stakeholder engagement, privacy and OIA requests, recreational boating and Maritime NZ’s contribution to the America’s Cup.

Please tell us a bit about your background...

I was born in Waiouru, as both of my parents were in the army. We moved around a lot, mostly in South East Asia, but settled in Wellington just before I started high school. School and I didn’t get on well, so instead of continuing to study, I worked as a registry clerk in a government department for a year. Unfortunately, the government department and I also didn’t get on (mainly because I was 17 years old and didn’t appreciate the importance of doing what my manager told me to do), so I moved to Christchurch to study political science and linguistics. After gaining my Master’s Degree, I worked as a researcher/policy advisor in the transport area, through which I met Russell Kilvington, Director of the Maritime Safety Authority. Russell suggested I come to Wellington to work for him… and here I am 21 years later (having added a husband and three children along the way)!

I’m often asked about how I can stay in one organisation for so long without being “institutionalised”. Because my role has changed so often I’ve always found the work interesting, and because I’ve been lucky to have managers who’ve supported me to try new things and work through any mistakes, I’ve been challenged sufficiently to not get bored. I’ve always had a passion for ensuring that industry voices are heard and valued within Maritime NZ, and as a result, I’ve not only built strong connections across our diverse industry, I’ve developed a deep commitment to making a difference by being part of a regulator that works alongside the industry to achieve better ‘safe, secure and clean’ outcomes.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?

A typical day starts with checking my emails, then spending most of my hours in discussions (meetings!) with various internal and external people. We either talk about specific issues, or just check in on what’s happening and what we need to focus on. I try to do a lot of listening, and to encourage people across the organisation to connect with each other. I also try to make sure I’m focusing on vision and direction, rather than telling people to do too much.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It may be a cliché but I enjoy feeling like I’m making a difference to people in the work I do – either those within Maritime NZ, or those in the industry. I also like having a huge amount of freedom to do what I think is right to achieve our organisational outcomes.

What do you find most challenging?

The people! I sometimes find it challenging to remember I can’t fix everything immediately, and that it’s not all about me, it’s about how I can best play my part in the maritime industry. I also struggle when dealing with people who don’t appear to want to treat each other with respect, or to achieve to their potential. But I’ve learnt the hard way that I don’t have all the answers, and that I need to listen more than I talk.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?

A bit of a theme here – the people! I work across the whole of the maritime industry, and people are universally open, welcoming and focused on safety and environmental outcomes, as well as sustainable business (if they’re on the commercial side). I like the diversity and the honesty. You know where you stand with people in the maritime industry – they say it like it is. I’d far rather have that than pretense. Oh, and the ships are pretty cool too!

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?

My proudest moments have been seeing staff whose careers I’ve played a role in developing, progress and achieve, and the times I’ve heard that something I’ve done or said has made a difference to someone personally. I’m perhaps a bit different from a lot of senior managers in that I talk and write about fairly personal experiences. I do this to reassure staff that we’re all human – we worry, we’re anxious, and we fail and screw things up at times. I want everyone to know that this is normal and okay, and that what we do at work doesn’t define us as people.

In terms of work outputs, I was involved in setting up what’s now the NZ Safer Boating Forum, and FishSAFE. Both were partnerships across sectors that have led to unity of action and, I believe, improved safety outcomes.

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I started an organisation supporting parents of transgender and gender diverse children in 2015, and now over 430 families throughout New Zealand are members. It’s entirely parent-led, although we partner with Rainbow Youth, InsideOUT, and the Human Rights Organisation to make sure parents and children get the support they need to live great lives. My biggest achievement is knowing that many families and children have had the lifeline they needed because of my simple decision to not let any other family feel as alone as we did.

What are the values that drive you?

It’s easy to list off a set of values, but I believe every person wants to do their best, and that my role is to ensure that they’re given the information, feedback and support they need to do so. I also believe people deserve to be treated with respect and everything that brings, even when they’ve done something that seems unexplainable.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I enjoy spending time with my children, I go swimming (in nice, warm indoor pools) and try to walk the hills of Wellington as much as I can. I listen to music, read, and do fine embroidery. I’m starting to get in to gardening (something my younger self would be horrified by!). I’m also always studying – at the moment I’m doing a Diploma in Human Development at Massey University.

Eva Maxwell

Business Operations Coordinator - Marine Pollution Response Service

Eva Maxwell

Eva Maxwell grew up surrounded by the sea in the “really special place” that is Great Barrier Island. So it’s fitting that Eva now dedicates herself to protecting New Zealand’s marine environment in her role as Business Operations Coordinator for our Marine Pollution Response Service.

Now in her fifteenth year at Maritime NZ, Eva particularly enjoys engaging with our National Response Team and Regional Council responders, and sees our relationships with these groups as crucial because “if we need to respond, we rely heavily on their support”.

Eva talked to us about everything from the projects she’s currently focusing on, to her ‘True North’ - the internal compass that helps guide her through life.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I start with yoga in the morning, before juggling my work based on current priorities. I’m involved in a few projects at the moment, including an Incident Notification project to improve the way we communicate internally when an incident occurs. I‘m also involved in a GIS project - reviewing and improving our field data collection apps and dashboards for incident responses.

I’m the coordinator for our National Response Team for Oil Spill Response, so at the same time, I’m always on the lookout for exceptional people to join our team.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I really enjoy the variety of work I get to be involved in. I’d say the engagement with our National Response Team and Regional Council responders is probably the most enjoyable - it’s really important for us to have good relationships with these groups; if we need to respond, we rely heavily on their support.

What do you find most challenging?
There seems to be a never-ending amount of work to do! It’s important that we’re constantly reviewing how we do things to make improvements and to keep up with evolving technologies. It’s been another really busy year, and I’m looking forward to some downtime this summer.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
Earlier in the year I presented to a couple of hundred attendees at a conference in New Orleans. I’ve never enjoyed speaking publicly, and I don’t know many people who do. However, I made sure I allowed enough time to plan my presentation, and managed to do a really good job. I think nerves are actually a good thing. Being nervous makes you work harder - and you feel great afterwards. I’m starting to think that maybe I’m just excited, and not nervous, before presenting.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
I recently completed the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Incident Controller Level 2 course. I haven’t had the opportunity to exercise or respond in the Incident Controller capacity before, so I wasn’t sure how I’d go. The course was excellent and provided us with lots of tools and techniques, and thankfully, the feedback I received from my assessors was really positive.

I learnt that the role is fundamentally about managing your team and encouraging them to be high performing, and meeting all the required outputs, while remaining calm and confident.

What are the values that drive you?
Many, many, years ago I attended a values-based leadership workshop, which included discussing the concept of finding your ‘True North’ - the internal compass that guides you successfully through life and helps you stay on track. After a couple of days of activities and talks, each person came up with one word to summarise their ‘True North’. My word was ‘fun’. It really resonated with me. I often think about that and how important it is that I’m having fun with whatever I’m doing, and if other values that are important to me - such as respect, enthusiasm and transparency - are in force, I feel like I’m living my ‘True North’.

I also believe it’s important to be completely engaged in whatever you’re doing and to take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way to continuously develop yourself.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I love the ocean and am completely drawn to it, so you’ll find me either fishing, surfing, swimming, walking the beach, or just looking at the ocean. I also enjoy travelling and exploring - there’s so much to see and do!

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I grew up on Great Barrier Island, which I feel was a huge privilege - it’s a really special place - before moving to the mainland to go to boarding school. My career began in Las Vegas where I was a Personal Assistant for a Gold Mining/Exploration company, a role which involved travelling to Europe, Canada and many places in the USA. I missed New Zealand too much though, so I came back, and enjoyed some office support roles before stepping into my current position at Maritime NZ in 2004.

Pelin Fantham

Deputy Director - Compliance Systems Delivery

Ginni Murray

Pelin Fantham is driven by a desire to make a difference and says she can see how her group “makes a difference to the maritime industry every day”.

After working for ship classification society, Det Norske Veritas (now DNVGL), in both London and Singapore, Pelin came on board eleven years ago, and now heads up our Compliance Systems Delivery group.

Among other things, we talked to Pelin about the joy and challenges of working for the industry, and learnt that she’s always prepared to put in the hard yards - in her spare time as well as at work...

What do you enjoy most about your role?
One of the key things that drives me is making a difference and I can see how the work my group undertakes makes a difference to the maritime industry every day. We fulfill the ‘why’ in Maritime NZ’s aim of keeping New Zealand’s seas ‘safe, secure and clean’.

What do you find most challenging?
Accidents or incidents can be challenging, especially if someone is seriously injured or killed. We play a really important role here. Not only does our work hold people to account, it helps bring a degree of closure for victims, whanau and family, it helps ensure that the same type of accidents don’t happen again, and sometimes it helps us understand how we can do things better ourselves. Accidents and incidents are also a good reminder about the importance of our work - they put a face to what we do - and our work to improve safety really does matter. When someone is liable it’s so important that we do the right thing and make quality decisions supported by our compliance operating model. As the decision maker, I don’t take that task or responsibility lightly!

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I don’t think there’s such a thing as typical day. The group I manage has a broad variety of compliance roles - auditing, certification functions and investigating as well as assisting people - so that keeps things varied and interesting.

One key piece of work my group is currently leading is ‘Health and Safety in Ports’, a collaborative project involving us, WorkSafe, industry and unions.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
The industry is complex and interesting. Also as an island nation, the industry is vitally important to us as a country.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
Honestly, there are so many I couldn’t define one particular moment. I’m proud seeing the fantastic work my group does on a daily basis and I’m very proud to lead a group of such dedicated individuals.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
I’d probably say it’s my running achievements. I went from not being able to run from one lamp post to the next (literally) to running marathons and a couple of ultra-marathons. It takes hard work, dedication and consistency to get there.

What are the values that drive you?
Integrity, equality and fairness are all pretty important to me. I think if you keep those in mind then you’re on the right track.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Well, apart from running (which I admit takes up quite a lot of my spare time), spending time with family and friends enjoying fine food (another reason to run!) and conversation.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I’ve worked in a variety of regulatory leadership, management and senior management roles across the organisation since coming on board 11 years ago. Before Maritime NZ, I worked for ship classification society, Det Norske Veritas (now DNVGL), originally out of its London office and then Singapore.

Ginni Murray

Maritime Officer

Ginni Murray

Ginni Murray “loves meeting and working closely with our operators”, and has been doing so for more than four years now.

Her proudest moments with Maritime NZ include the work she's done to help create a safer environment for commercial operators, their crews and passengers. “I’m hopeful the outcome of cases I've been involved in will save lives,” Ginni said.

We talked to Ginni about her roles - both as a maritime officer and, before that, a police officer - and discovered what she likes best about working for the maritime industry.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
Something I’m really proud of is the work I’ve done to help create a safer environment for commercial operators, their crews and passengers - internationally as well as nationally. One case in particular involved a tragic incident on a cruise ship that resulted in the death of a crew member. It was caused by poor maintenance and never should have happened. As well as help investigate the case, I worked closely with our technical team to create a safety update to raise awareness and highlight hazards that can happen when jobs aren’t done properly.

I’m really hopeful this message, and others like them, will help prevent incidents like these from happening again - and, as a result, minimise the risk of injury and save lives.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
It’s my job as a maritime officer to make it easy for our operators to do the right thing, which is something I find very satisfying. It helps that our operators are passionate about what they do - and that, for most, safety is a top priority. I love meeting and working closely with them.

I also enjoy the opportunity to work with colleagues who have diverse backgrounds within either the maritime industry or compliance. It’s great to learn from the people around me, and what I can offer them.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
The great thing about being a maritime officer is no two days are the same. I could be working on an audit with an operator at Ngawi, running an investigation skills course, or accompanying a fellow maritime officer on a Port State Control inspection. I was recently in the Chatham Islands for a week, which I enjoyed.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I like the variety of work Maritime NZ offers, which brings me into contact with a range of people, whether they be our key stakeholders, other government agencies, operators, surveyors, or other Maritime NZ staff I call on for advice, such as the policy team or technical staff.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I was a police officer for almost eight years - mostly in the Child Protection Team and the Criminal Investigations Branch dealing with serious crime. I then wanted a change and the opportunity arose to work for Maritime NZ. After being a specialist investigator in the Compliance Team for four years, I jumped at the chance to work as a maritime officer. I saw it as an opportunity to engage with our stakeholders and operators face-to-face, plus learn more about ships and all manner of vessels.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
While in the Police, I particularly appreciated my time in the Child Protection Team. We worked hard and I know a lot of children’s lives were improved after the intervention of the Police, working in tandem with Oranga Tamariki. I was in charge of some cases that were difficult for a variety of reasons. To have offenders sent to prison or deported because of what they’d done to young children was a satisfying outcome.

What are the values that drive you?
Having fun while you live life is a good thing. This in tandem with having respect, integrity and having a moral compass is also important to me.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Apart from family life, I like horse riding and running. I recently completed the San Francisco marathon which was hard work, especially running over the Golden Gate Bridge. I also keep beehives at the Soup Kitchen community garden in Wellington. I donate the honey I harvest to the Soup Kitchen for the breakfasts and dinners they serve. I’m also fond of a good wine or craft beer in my down time.

Kelly Garmonsway

Programme Manager, America’s Cup

Kelly Garmonsway

When she was a child, Kelly wanted to run away to join the French Foreign Legion. But being a girl and growing up in New Zealand, she had to make do with life on land - until 1997 when she signed up for the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserves.

Kelly spent the next ten years as a reservist, sometimes spending weeks at a time at sea. It was an experience that would set her on a path to Maritime NZ, where she’s currently Programme Manager for the America’s Cup.

We talked to Kelly about her extensive career - on land as well as at sea - and what a typical day looks like for the leader of the 36 th America’s Cup Project Team.

Please tell us a bit about your background…
I was raised in Karitane, a small fishing village north of Dunedin, and joined the Royal New Zealand Naval Reserve in 1997. I was cross-trained in two branches and served on a vessel on which the key roles were shared, so I worked as everything - an administrator, deckhand, medic, cook and a firefighter.

It was an interesting time to be a reservist. Our vessels were survey vessels - they were designed to survey routes in and out of harbours for mines (this was called ‘mine counter-measures’) but that wasn’t all they did. Reserve vessels served a variety of purposes. They were used in previous America’s Cups as on-water command centres and were also involved in the search for Ben Smart and Olivia Hope after the pair disappeared in the Marlborough Sounds.

An event that sticks in my memory was the recovery operation for the Southern Air Cessna that lost power and landed in the Foveaux Strait. HMNZS Moa found the plane and lay out the markers for recovering the aircraft.

More recently, I was part of the team responsible for implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations on the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy. I then led a large scale, two-year multi-agency programme, to implement the Underground Mines Emergency Protocol, which was developed in response to one of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

My career with Maritime NZ began in early 2016 as a Senior Operational Policy Advisor.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
A typical day starts with an early wakeup call to take one of the most scenic commuter train trips in New Zealand - between my home in Masterton and the office in Wellington. At work, I’m currently focusing all my time on preparing for the 36th America’s Cup, which involves a significant amount of industry and cross-government discussion and project planning as well as policy development and implementation. I feel really privileged to be working with such a great team of passionate, enthusiastic and driven people.

At the end of the day, I relax on the long train journey home and wind down with my three wonderful children.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
The people involved in the maritime sector - both Maritime NZ staff and industry members - are authentic and passionate about what they do.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
It’s really hard to pinpoint a single proud moment, given every bit of work we do contributes to a much larger picture. But I was really pleased to have worked with the New Zealand Maritime Pilot’s Association - and to assist them to deliver their own industry guidelines that could be endorsed by Maritime NZ.

What are the values that drive you?
I find the words of well-known astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, go some way toward reflecting my own values:

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.”

What do you find most challenging about your role?
Nearly every core piece of work I’ve completed since starting at Maritime NZ has been challenging, but it has also been an opportunity to increase my skills. The key opportunities presented in these challenges usually enhance my life in three areas:

  • building better relationships
  • increasing technical competency
  • increasing self-awareness.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the challenge of working to tight timeframes. I also really enjoy the high level of people management and engagement involved my role. Above all, it’s the people I work with internally and externally that make this a job I love doing.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
Personally, I think my biggest achievement is my three wonderful children. My oldest son is a talented actor, who has acted for, and alongside, some internationally renowned kiwi acting elites. My daughter is talented in mathematics, coding and the sciences, and is in every gifted class made available to her, and my youngest son is a very talented footballer who has recently received dispensation from Wellington Football to play up two grades in the premier grades. He’s also a fantastic all-rounder academically and a great little showman.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I really enjoy taking my children on outdoor adventures and exploring the world around me. I also love being at home. My primary source of stress relief is cooking, so I do a lot of technical cooking that requires intense concentration. It’s a form of active relaxing that helps my brain to rest.

Katy Bond

Senior Training Officer, Marine Pollution Response Service

MNZ staff at training exercise

When studying for her Master’s degree in Marine Biology in North Wales, Katy had no idea she’d end up with a career in oil spill response. Nor did she picture herself living in the remote Shetland Islands and, later, in New Zealand.

So it was luck on our part that an interest in killer whale research set UK-born Katy off on a path that led her to Maritime NZ. Now a Senior Training Officer in our Marine Pollution Response Service team, Katy plays a crucial role in helping us to minimise the impact of oil spills on our marine environment.

We talked to Katy about her extensive experience in oil spill response and what she enjoys most about her role with our Marine Pollution Response Service team, including the work she’s most proud of.

Please tell us a bit about your background…
After completing my Masters in Marine Biology I joined Southhampton Oil Spill Response Limited Operations team, and learned how to respond to oil spills in different environments. I was also involved in oil industry exercises, training in such unique environments as Montana and Quebec, where the spills were in ice. I then went on to help train others in Seattle, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Cape Town and Ft Lauderdale.

In 2016, I took on a secondment role in the Shetland Islands (if you don’t know where this is, I’d recommend a Google search) at a new response base set up by BP. As Base Manager, I was responsible for developing a database of all of BP’s equipment on the Shetlands, as well as managing a procedures and maintenance programme. I enjoyed the challenge of implementing new procedures and ensuring the warehouse and operations inside and around it were in line with health and safety best practice. At the same time I trained Shetland Island Council staff and developed shoreline response plans.

People often ask me what was it like living in such a remote part of the world with such a small population. My answer? I loved it!

After a whirlwind move (from Shetland to New Zealand via Southampton), I stepped into my current role of Senior Training Officer in the Marine Pollution Response Service team in 2017.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
At the moment my days are focused on developing material for National Response Team training as well as getting involved with our regional council training and exercises. I enjoy the practical side of response, so I get out and about with the kit when I can.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
Working in the government sector has been a big change. Learning about the government’s role and, in general, about how New Zealand operates in regard to marine oil spills has been interesting and good to learn about.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
The fact that I can be inside one day and outside the next!

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
Having not been with Maritime NZ very long, my proudest moment will be when we’ve developed and implemented the National Response Team training programme. It won’t be ready for a year or so, but we’re certainly on the right path to achieving something Maritime NZ can be proud of.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
From a professional point of view, it has to be the Shetland Response Base as I saw it grow from a warehouse with equipment to a fully-functioning base. The team that supported me was, ultimately, the people I handed the base over to at the end of my secondment, so seeing them develop and learn more about response to the point of taking over made me proud.

What are the values that drive you?
I thrive on doing really well at a job and would rather see a job done well to the end than do half at 100% and the rest at 50%. If I take on a task, I strive to do it to the best of my ability. In some cases this serves me really well. In others, not so well, especially when other people are not on the same page. I’ve learned that everything can’t be perfect all the time.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Since moving to New Zealand, my husband and I have spent most of our weekends and holidays exploring the country. We love travelling and get itchy feet if we don’t have a new place to explore - our next place to visit is Samoa!

Nikki Tuhou

HR Advisor - Recruitment

Woman on wharf

Nikki Tuhou works behind the scenes in our busy People Capability Team. As well as helping to keep our staff members “engaged, resilient and valued,” she takes pride in ensuring that Maritime NZ attracts the best possible talent.

Nikki has been with us since 2017, and says it’s an honour to work alongside such “passionate, dedicated and hugely talented” people.

We asked Nikki about what she does at Maritime NZ, including what she likes best about working for the industry, what her proudest moment is, and what her typical day looks like (and discovered there’s no typical day for Nikki…).

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
The maritime industry plays a crucial role in our economy, the people are passionate, and there’s such diversity (which, thankfully, is reflected in our organisation). I don’t have a maritime background, so I’m really enjoying learning something new about the industry, and the people in it, every day.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I’m lucky - I get to be proud of the work I do every time a successful candidate signs their employment contract and every time I create a solution that improves a staff member’s career.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
There’s no typical day for me. I could be helping our managers bring more great talent into Maritime NZ by writing adverts, interviewing candidates or checking references. Or I could be providing employment relations or other advice to our managers and staff to ensure everyone is capable, engaged, resilient and valued.

I’m currently focused on two areas - managing a busy recruitment work programme and supporting an organisation-wide programme with tight deadlines and high expectations!

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I get to deal with all parts of our fascinating and diverse organisation. The people we have on board are passionate, dedicated, and hugely talented and it’s an honour to be working alongside them.

What do you find most challenging?
It’s a challenge to not say ‘yes’ to every exciting piece of work I hear about! There aren’t enough hours in the day.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
I’m a proud mum to a feisty, intelligent, caring child who is easily my greatest achievement. Career-wise, I once spent a year working a demanding full-time role while studying two Master’s-level papers a trimester (because I thought I should complete my qualifications in half the usual time!). That was a huge achievement, and a major lesson in never, ever taking on that much again.

What are the values that drive you?
Maritime NZ’s values of integrity, commitment and respect resonate with me, along with trust, loyalty, curiosity, courage and perseverance.

Please tell us about your background…
A born and bred Wellingtonian, I spent my early career temping and contracting to gain exposure to a variety of roles and industries. I then worked for a wide range of companies - from Australia’s largest telco, to an employee-owned investment banking and share broking firm, to global recruitment agencies. Working with people, building relationships and finding collaborative solutions were the common themes throughout.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I’m happiest at the beach or by the ocean. I love spending time outside with my son (with my heart in my mouth) as he masters tricks at speed on his bike or scooter. I’m also partial to catching up with friends over loud, live music.

Michelle Lough

Operations Advisor

Woman on wharf

Michelle Lough’s grandfather was a ship’s agent, and her dad went to sea aged 15 as ‘ship’s boy’, later following in his father’s footsteps. So it’s little wonder that, despite her “father’s protest”, Michelle found herself working in the industry.

Michelle has been putting her lifetime of industry experience to good use at Maritime NZ for nearly 10 years now, and currently belongs to our Policy Delivery Guidance and Support team.

We asked Michelle about her background in the maritime industry and discovered she was even married at sea! Michelle also shared her proudest moment at Maritime NZ, what her typical day entails, and what she likes most about working for the maritime sector.

Please tell us a bit about your background...
I grew up in Nelson surrounded by the maritime industry. My grandfather was a ship’s agent and my father went to sea aged 15 as ‘ship’s boy’ (yes, that was an actual position), and went on to become a shipping agent. So I guess it was inevitable, despite my father’s protest, I’d end up working in the industry.

I started my career, nearly 30 years ago, as Shipping Officer for the NZ Kiwifruit Marketing Board (now Zespri). I then moved to Auckland and took on the role of Vessel Co-ordinator for the Nedlloyd business unit at Seabridge. When Seabridge announced it was closing its doors, I decided to run away to sea. Well, to clarify - I joined my partner Richard*, a Master Mariner, for the next 10 years as he worked onboard a variety of world-wide trading vessels. I earned my keep by doing the paperwork for each port and reporting for victualing (food provision), bond and crew wages. We were married onboard a Renaissance cruise ship off Cadiz where Richard was Staff Captain and I worked wherever there was need - escorting shore excursions, purser, spa receptionist and even filling in for the nurse.

Eventually Richard’s employers offered him a position at their head office in Cyprus to implement the International Ship and Port Facility (ISPS) Code. I became Crewing Superintendent for another ship management company and was managing the crewing department before we returned to New Zealand. I then started a contract with Maritime NZ, working in the Seafarer Licensing team and, as they say, the rest is history.

*Richard Lough has also worked for Maritime NZ for the past 10 years. He’s a Senior Technical Advisor in our Maritime Systems Assurance team.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I was part of the large team from across Maritime NZ that was responsible for implementing the new requirement for float-free EPIRBs on fishing vessels**. We knew that making EPIRBs compulsory had the potential to save lives and this gave the project a real sense of purpose. I’m really thankful that a float-free EPIRB was activated when a fishing vessel overturned off the coast of the Chatham Islands recently. The alert from the EPIRB was received by our Rescue Coordination Centre and helped save the lives of three fishermen.

What are the values that drive you?
My father - the shipping agent - instilled a really strong work ethic. You do what’s necessary to get the job done, you are loyal and you treat people fairly.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I’m an early starter - I try to do my serious reading first thing while it’s quiet. There’s a fair amount of research, reading and planning required in my role. I work closely with subject matter experts across Maritime NZ and within the industry, so meetings - whether formal or impromptu - are a daily occurrence.

My work programme currently includes drafting a position statement on stability requirements when towing, refining a checklist for auditing ‘recognised organisations’, and external consultation on a guideline for surveyors and operators.

What do you find most challenging about your role?
The variety of work and subject matter is both challenging and rewarding. I’m currently doing some work in the Design and Construction space. I really enjoy the research and getting into the detail. However, I find it quite challenging to get a good understanding of a technical subject I’m not familiar with.

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
It’s the people. I’ve had some great opportunities working both within New Zealand and overseas. The thing that’s always resonated with me is the passion people have in the industry. Most of us rely on the sea or waterways as a source of income, a place to play or a means to transport goods and services. I believe there’s a real connection for those working in the marine environment.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I like pottering in the garden, fishing (when conditions are right), cooking for family and friends, and watching a good game of rugby while curled up on the couch.

** Float-free EPIRB distress beacons that can activate automatically became compulsory on commercial fishing vessels from 1 January 2019. This applies to those vessels between 7.5- 24 metres operating outside enclosed waters.

Jo Sweetman-King

Operational and Strategic Planner

Woman on boat

One of the many talented women in our crew, Jo Sweetman-King has spent half her life working for Maritime NZ (she won’t admit how many years that is!) and was recently seconded to the role of Operational and Strategic Planner for the Maritime Systems Assurance team.

We asked Jo about her role at Maritime NZ, including what her proudest moment is, what her typical day entails, and what she likes most about working for the maritime industry.

What’s your proudest moment at Maritime NZ?
I’m really proud of the work I did to arrange the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding meeting Maritime NZ hosted in Queenstown in 2014. The meeting is held in a different signatory country each year and involves delegates from all signatory countries. I’m pleased to say that with two years of planning the meeting went off without a hitch and all the delegates enjoyed visiting New Zealand.

What is your biggest achievement to date (personal or professional)?
My biggest achievement is raising my two boys, who are now 12 years old and soon to be 15 years old. Some days they present their own challenges but they are my pride and joy.

What are the values that drive you?
I’m a firm believer of the three Maritime NZ values - respect, commitment and integrity - both personally and professionally.

What does a typical day look like and what are you currently focusing on?
I’ve just started a secondment to a role in my team that didn’t previously exist. At the moment, there are no typical days. I am busy preparing the Business Plan for the coming financial year and planning the work for our group.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy working with my team and across the organisation. No two days are ever the same at Maritime NZ and I love the variety.

What do you find most challenging?
To be honest, one of my biggest challenges can be wrangling everyone’s calendars to get them all in the same place at the same time!

What do you like best about working for the maritime industry?
I find the industry quite fascinating. It’s such a vast industry - we can be working on an issue related to fishing vessels one day and a cruise ship the next.

Please tell us a bit about your background…
After leaving high school I completed an office administration course at Hutt Valley Polytech (now Weltec). I then put my skills to work in a variety of industries before joining what was then known as the Maritime Safety Authority.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I’ve recently retired from 20 years of playing indoor netball once a week, so I’m looking for something to fill the exercise void. Besides that, I like to cook and hang out with my family and friends.

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